Prevent and Protect yourself from cybercrimes on Social Media



Social networking communities are an inherent part of today’s Internet. People love using them to stay in contact with friends, exchange pictures, or just to pass the time when bored. With user groups with hundreds of mil¬lions of members, there are always some black sheep with malicious intent. There are a lot of cases of privacy breach, however many users do not even set the privacy settings provided by the web site itself and are unaware of the risks that come with sharing too much personal information. Sometimes they even post sensitive information like their own password for everyone to see. Social media definitely can be entertaining, but users need to be aware of the risks involved and not trust everything they come across.

To prevent and protect against cybercrimes occurring on social media, the following measures can be taken:

Check privacy policies & settings

All major social media websites services have specific privacy guidelines and rules that are published on their websites. Make sure you understand them, even though they may be tedious to read, as they likely explain if your information is shared with other parties. Some services offer the ability to restrict your privacy settings for specific groups, such as allowing you to share pictures with your friends only and not everyone. Make good use of these settings.

Choose strong passwords

Use hard to guess passwords. (Your birth date or “123456” are not strong passwords.) If possible, the password should contain letters and numbers, as well as special characters. If you cannot remember complex passwords, either use a passphrase as hint or use any of the available password management utilities that can securely store them for you. Do not choose a password that can be guessed by the information that you have published on your account site. This includes friend’s names, favoured movie stars, or pet names.

Keep your password secret

You should never share your password with others. This includes services that promise to help you get more friends or something similar. Do not lose control of your password. If you enter your password, ensure that you are on the real website and not a phishing scam page that just looks like the original site. Should you suspect that you have fallen for a phishing attack and your account has been compromised, use a clean computer to log into the original service and change your password.

Be on your guard

Social media can be a useful source for business information, as well as for newsworthy updates from your friends. However they also contain a lot of useless information. You should treat anything you see online with a high degree of caution. Do not believe everything you read, whether it is financial advice, breaking news, or free tips, especially if it involves clicking a link or installing an application. If someone asks you for money in advance, it might be a scam.

Besides, people on the Internet are not always who they claim to be. The celebrity who you are following might just be another fan, and the supposed co-worker from another office might just be someone doing reconnaissance on your enterprise. Not everyone that claims to be your friend is your friend.

Be considerate

Always think twice before posting something. Keep in mind that once you posted it, even to a close group of friends, you no longer have control over where it will be reposted and who might read it. These things can come back to haunt you when you search for a new position in the future. Consider if you really need to publish the full information. This includes posting too many personal details, such as phone numbers or work-related things. Furthermore refrain from forwarding virus hoax or exaggerated warning messages that will confuse more than help other users. Be nice and respectful to others and do not post hate messages about others, since you would not want to receive them yourself.

Keep yourself updated and protected

Always ensure that the software you use is up-to-date. Not only does this include the operating system and web browser, but also third-party plug-ins, such as PDF viewers. Install all the latest patches and hot fixes from the official site and automatically check for newer available versions through the software. Some of the newer attacks are very sophisticated and are sometimes hard to spot for an untrained eye. Use com¬prehensive security software to protect against these threats.


Photo Guidelines – Protect your Pictures

Photos posted on social media websites should be done so with the utmost care. Nothing posted online is private, and photos should be regarded as such. The following guidelines should be used when posting photos:

Photos of children should not be posted without expressed consent from the parents. Even then such photos should be avoided.
Care should be taken not to post photos of individuals who would object. This may involve obtaining the appropriate permissions.
Photos posted on social media websites must be appropriate. As a guideline, they should be photos that could be posted on a college’s official Web site. Examples of photos that should be avoided include but are not limited to: photos involving alcohol, nudity, medical and hospital patients, and graphic scenes.

General Parental Guidance

Just as adults need to help kids stay safe, they also need to learn not to overreact when they find out a child or teenager has been exposed to inappropriate material or strayed from a rule. Whatever you do, don’t blame or punish your child if he tells you about an uncomfortable online encounter. Your best strategy is to work with him, so you both can learn from what happened and figure out how to keep it from happening again.

Here are some tips that you can practice at home as a parent:

Help your kids understand what information should be private

Tell them why it is important to keep some things about themselves, family members and friends to themselves. Information like their full name, Social Security number, street address, phone number, and family financial information like bank or credit card account numbers is private and should stay that way. Tell them not to choose a screen name that gives away too much personal information.

Use privacy settings to restrict who can access and post on your child’s website

Some social networking sites have strong privacy settings. Show your child how to use these settings to limit who can view their online profile, and explain to them why this is important.

Explain that kids should post only information that you, and they, are comfortable with others seeing

Even if privacy settings are turned on, some, or even all of your child’s profile may be seen by a broader audience than you’re comfortable with. Encourage your child to think about the language used in a blog, and to think before posting pictures and videos. Employers, college admissions officers, team coaches, and teachers may view your child’s postings. Even a kid’s screen name could make a difference. Encourage teens to think about the impression that screen names could make.

Remind your kids that once they post information online, they cannot take it back

Even if they delete the information from a site, older versions may exist on other people’s computers and be circulated online.

Know how your kids are getting online

More and more, kids are accessing the internet through their cell phones. Find out about what limits you can place on your child’s cell phone. Some cellular companies have plans that limit downloads, internet access, and texting; other plans allow kids to use those features only at certain times of day.

Talk to your kids about bullying

Online bullying can take many forms, from spreading rumours online and posting or forwarding private messages without the sender’s acknowledgement, to sending threatening messages. Tell your kids that the words they type and the images they post can have real-world consequences. They can make the target of the bullying feel bad, make the sender look bad and, sometimes, can bring on punishment from the authorities. Encourage your kids to talk to you if they feel targeted by a bully.

Tell your kids to trust their gut if they have suspicions

If they feel threatened by someone or uncomfortable because of something online, encourage them to tell you. You can then help them report concerns to the police and to the social networking site. Most sites have links where users can immediately report abusive, suspicious, or inappropriate online behaviour.

Read sites’ privacy policies

Spend some time with a site’s privacy policy, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and parent sections to understand its features and privacy controls. The site should spell out your rights as a parent to review and delete your child’s profile if your child is younger than 13.